Today I wake up late. Perhaps I should train better for these all-nighters and hanging with locals until 4:30 AM evenings. I pull myself out of bed and down the stairs a little after noon. The sleep served me well. I feel good, energized and not slow at all.
When I walk over to my bike, I suddenly feel sick and violated.
It doesn’t hit me right away, but something seems odd. That’s when I notice the dangling bungee cords that secured my Aerostich tank panniers to the bike. They’re gone. Next, I realize my tank bag is gone, too. Wait. There’s more. That wooden box with a bottle of Greek wine gifted to me nearly a month ago is also gone.
I’m shaking. My heart is racing. I look up the street, then down the street. Good god, I cannot believe what happened. They have ripped me off.
I pace back and forth by my bike. Lost at the moment, I feel sick to my stomach.
I’ve traveled on my motorcycle to over 70 countries including those considered being the most dangerous. Never have I been robbed, ripped off, or vandalized. Never.
Yet, here I am in Croatia, a country considered being safe and secure for tourists.
Bullshit. They win the award of “the only country to violate WorldRider.” They also lose. Croatia sucks. I know, I know. This can happen anywhere. You know what? That’s true. But it happened here, in Croatia. This is the truth, and Croatia, in my mind, is the only country in the world to rip me off. After nearly ten years, 100,000 miles, seventy-some-odd countries on five continents, it’s Croatia that gets me.
Sure, some people will tell me I’ve been lucky. Sorry, I don’t look at it that way. Read this blog, the whole thing. You will learn, see, and feel as I do about how I look at this world.
I don’t want to let this taint my perspective, nor my trip. But for the moment, I’ve got to let loose. I am pissed.
Oh, there wasn’t much value in the panniers and tank bag. I’m not stupid. I’ve always contended that if someone wanted what I had in those bags, go for it. But I never thought someone would grab the actual bags, especially the tank panniers.
I do a quick review of what was in those bags.
CONTENTS OF TANK BAG AND PANNIERS
I could not care less about the loss. You know, it’s the point—the principle.
All of these items are easily replaceable on the road. The tank bag and panniers are not.
My instinct is to cast blame. With my heart still racing, temperature rising, I call the apartment manager who told me not to worry. She said this was a quiet, safe and secure neighborhood.
She suggests we ask neighbors if they saw anything, and looking in dumpsters to see if thieves discarded any unwanted items. This effort is fruitless. She calls the police. They cannot confirm if there are security cameras and ask us to wait 2-3 hours. I fear this would be a waste of time.
“I saw your bike an hour ago,” she tells me, “all your things were intact.” She explains that she walked by my bike and remarked about the items.
“Last night I was out until 4:30 AM,” I tell her, “My bike was fine and with everything intact. Indeed, I recorded a video showing that my bike was secure and safe.”
She tells me this never happens. I don’t believe her.
I tell her I don’t want to wait for the police. She will continue to ask people in the building and neighborhood. I agree to settle down.
A few moments later I see a man and woman standing next to a BMW motorcycle. I notice they have items strapped to the back. It seems to me that they are parking the motorcycle near other bikes and scooters. I run over to warn them. Don’t leave anything on the bike.
“Someone just stole our helmets,” the Italian man tells me while his girlfriend is on the phone talking to the police. “They cut through our locking cable,” he holds up the lock—it’s a thick cable, but cut cleanly.
So, it’s not only me. Croatia, you suck. Split, you make me sick.
“I could not care less about the loss. You know, it’s the point—the principle—and that it happened here in Croatia.”
Later I would learn that many hardcore fans of the Split football (soccer) team, the Hajduks, are like a gang of hooligans. They challenge each other with rights of passage challenges, prove you’re tough acts and dangerous dares. It is well known they engage in violence, vandalism, and street crime.
Their actions taint and make a bad name for Split, and Croatia.
While I want to blame and condemn Croatia, and the city of Split for my misfortune, I am to blame.
I trusted you, Croatia. My fault. I shouldn’t have.
It’s rare that I park my bike in a larger town without covering it. I have a lightweight motorcycle cover. It’s the best security. I tell other travelers all the time, “nobody wants what they can’t see.” I even wrote an article about security for LifeLanes. I was too comfortable. I let down my guard and let myself down at the same time. I trust it’s my strength.
This time, however, I screwed myself.
I need to blow off steam. But I also know I need to move on. I cannot harbor negative energy or anger too long. This incident will be another story. It is a story, and I will tell it at the expense of Croatia. From the mass consumerism and amusement park atmosphere of Dubrovnik to the Hajduk Hoodlums of Split, Croatia let me down.
To be sure, I cannot blame the entire country for my misfortunate and mistake. The people here have been great from Mr. Kralj in Mali Ston, to Antonio and Sabina in Mokolo, and my new friends, the restaurant workers of Split.
Everything will be all right.